Samuel F. B. Morse, His Letters and Journals eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 588 pages of information about Samuel F. B. Morse, His Letters and Journals.
the addition of two or more light wagons, each containing in a small box the telegraph instruments and a reel of fine insulated wire to be kept in readiness at the headquarters on the field.  I proposed that, when required, the wagons with the corps of operators, two or three persons, at a rapid rate should reel off the wire to the right, the centre and the left of the army, as near to these parts of the army as practicable or convenient, and thus instantaneous notice of the condition of the whole army, and of the enemy’s movements, would be given at headquarters.

“To all this explanation of my plan was opposed the constant objection that it increased the material of the army.  The Hon. Marshal seemed to consider that the great object to be gained by an improvement was a decrease of this material; an example of this economy which he illustrated by the case of the substitution of the leather drinking cup for the tin cup hung to the soldier’s knapsack, an improvement which enabled the soldier to put his cup in his vest pocket.  For this improvement, if I remember right, he said the inventor, who was a common soldier, received at the hands of the Emperor Napoleon I the cross of the Legion of Honor.

“So set was the good Marshal in his repugnance to any increase to the material of the army that, after a few moments’ thought, I rebutted his position by putting to him the following case:—­

“‘M.  Marshal,’ I said, ’you are investing a fortress on the capture of which depends the success of your campaign; you have 10,000 men; on making your calculations of the chances of taking it by assault, you find that with the addition of 5000 more troops you could accomplish its capture.  You have it in your power, by a simple order, to obtain from the Government these 5000 men.  In this case what would you do?’

“He replied without hesitation:  ‘I should order the 5000, of course.’

“‘But,’ I rejoined, ’the material of the army would be greatly increased by such an order.’

“He comprehended the case, and, laughing heartily, abandoned the objection, but took refuge in the general skepticism of that day on the practicability of an electric telegraph.  He did not believe it could ever be put in practise.  This was an argument I could not then repel.  Time alone could vindicate my opinion, and time has shown both its practicability and its utility.”


APRIL 15, 1839—­SEPTEMBER 30, 1840

Arrival in New York.—­Disappointment at finding nothing done by Congress or his associates.—­Letter to Professor Henry.—­Henry’s reply.—­ Correspondence with Daguerre.—­Experiments with Daguerreotypes.-Professor Draper.—­First group photograph of a college class.—­Failure of Russian contract.—­Mr. Chamberlain.—­Discouragement through lack of funds.—­No help from his associates.—­Improvements in telegraph made by Morse.—­ Humorous letter.

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